I live in an area with lots of shopping. In my area at least, malls are giving way to outdoor shopping. Not the traditional strip mall, but rather shopping areas like this and this. Stores are interspersed with restaurants. Small shops abut department stores, and the shopping area closest to me even has a dog park. There is also a walking downtown as well as traditional mom and pop stores.
I am fortunate among all these shopping alternatives are quite a few individually owned small businesses. I have a locally owned, non chain bookstore. The kind that, like the big boys, has large coffee area, book groups and large spaces for reading. I have a non-chain fabric stores, scrapbook stores, clothing stores and other retail establishments.there are also locally owned printers, computer repair, and the like. I appreciate this in the extreme. I'm an extremely small business owner. While I rely on the web for some income, much of my income comes in locally. I rely on small businesses for my errand business and appreciate the struggle.
On the other hand, I have to watch my money. The question arises as to what to do when you want to support local businesses, but they are more expensive. Mind you, not all my local businesses are more expensive. My family owned hardware is extremely competitive. The local computer repair place wiped my computer of a virus for about a quarter of the Geek Squad's basic price. However, the bookstore is more expensive than discount online stores. The same is true of my local fabric store-they try to give the best price possible they cannot compete with Joanne fabrics or online choices. So what's a frugal gal to do? Especially since I have to pass the cost of goods onto my customers in terms of fabric and thread.
Sometimes it's a tough choice, but for now I've decided that whenever possible I'll make the local choice. Sometimes this may mean that I will be able to buy less, but I've decided that's okay. Mostly, the quality of the items in my local shops are superior to Walmart and Target. The items are sometimes (but not always) locally made. I like where I live and I like the kind of shopping and atmosphere-I figure whenever I can support that on my fixed income I should do so.
Sometimes I'm sure, Ill stray from the path-especially when I'm searching for supplies to make items to resell. But for now, I'll keep my small amount of money in my neighborhood as much as possible.
What about you-do you have locally owned stores? Do they provide quality? Do you shop there? Or do you prefer to stick with the big boys and their (sometime) big discounts. What works for you?